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Shaping the future of shopping for properties

Nurdianah Md Nur | Sept. 20, 2016
Instead of shying away from emerging technologies, iProperty is embracing AI-powered chatbots and virtual reality to provide a better customer experience.

iProperty Harmit Singh
Harmit Singh, Chief Information Officer of iProperty Group. Credit: iProperty.

As the saying "the tool is only as good as the user" goes, having the fanciest or most advanced technology won't guarantee improvements in the business. There must be a business case for deploying a tool.

In the case of online property portal iProperty, the company is leveraging analytics to enable its employees to be more productive and efficient. "By integrating iPropertyIQ - our Big Data product -into our agents product set called Agent Analytics, our agents are able to receive detailed information about the markets they operate in, such as supply and demand information, user visits and leads information. This helps them to sell properties faster," said Harmit Singh, Chief Information Officer of iProperty Group.

While most organisations cautiously take a wait-and-see approach with disruptive/emerging technologies, iProperty has jumped onto the artificial intelligence (AI), chatbot and virtual reality (VR) bandwagons. 

Just this June, the company launched Rebecca (Real Estate Bot with Enhanced CommuniCation), an AI-powered chat platform. Singh said: "Rebecca was developed by one of our engineers as a Hackday idea; he wanted to create a new channel to communicate with our consumers. Since we saw the potential of Rebecca to revolutionise our industry, we embraced it fully and launched it on Facebook to test the market. So far, the results have been encouraging."

"Our goal [for Rebecca] was to provide users access to a simple, convenient, yet intelligent channel for property investors, buyers and sellers to gain insights into property prices in different areas around Malaysia, and eventually other parts of Southeast Asia. Rebecca simplifies property research by providing convenient access to information of property listings as and when needed, through mobile devices. Rebecca can also harvest data on popular searches, providing property agents with insights that can help seal deals."

"[To use Rebecca,] property shoppers simply need to search for Rebecca - Iproperty Bot on Facebook, or connect via Telegram. Once on the platform, users can input their intention (ie. buy or rent), desired location (eg. Kuala Lumpur, Penang, or Pahang), type of property (ie. apartment, bungalow, etc.) as well as budget (eg. RM1,000,000) to kick off their property search. Rebecca will then provide listings with information that best matches the search criteria," he explained.

Virtual property showrooms

Besides AI and chatbots, the company launched a virtual 3D property showroom last year to improve the experience of purchasing a property.

Leveraging VR, the iProperty Goggles provides "a new platform for developers to showcase property projects internationally using multimedia devices, to provide buyers and investors with a visually-rich showroom experience," said Singh. "The iProperty Goggles allow developers to walk through 3D floor plans with customers, provide 3D flythrough videos, as well as conduct a room-to-room site visit virtually."

 

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